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Expert decries absence of policy to tackle autism

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The absence of policy that is specifically aimed at providing care for victims of autism is responsible for the state of confusion parents of autism patients find themselves, a Neuro-developmental disorders expert, Dr Austin Amaechi has said.

Amaechi revealed that there are no intervention programmes made available by government to tackle neuro-developmental disorder, which is also referred to as autism in the country.

He submitted that comprehensive care for children with neuro-developmental disorders requires coordination across education, health, and social developmental service systems.

While symptoms may take years to improve or it may never improve sufficiently, hence people with neurodevelopmental disabilities are likely to need special supports through all the stages of life – as infants and toddlers, children, adolescents, adults, and as senior citizens. 

“There is need for government at all levels to start funding and implementing programmes that are capable of giving our children the best start in life,” he added.

With the backdrop of the these problems around neurodevelopmental disabilities in the country, Dr. Austin Amaechi, a complex adaptive systems (CASs) researcher, designer and manager, a field where phenomena of interest often are dynamic and unfold in unpredictable ways has written a book titled, ‘Neuro-developmental disorders: enhancing everyday life – non existent therapeutic services in Nigeria – let’s do something about it’. 

Speaking on the book, Amaechi said the book explores the concept of neuro-developmental disabilities, how to understand and treat autism spectrum disorder; advise for government, healthcare providers and parents and families of sufferers.

The book which is slated for launch on April 10th in Abuja, itemizes how parents can cope with the challenges of taking care of autism patients and comes as the world commemorates World Autism day which celebrated yesterday Monday. 

His words: “The past few years have seen an increase in the prevalence of Autism. There is a danger that people think this is a problem so big they don’t bother. But we can make the world better one life at a time.

From my experiences, parenting children on the spectrum is a lot like parenting anyone.

You worry, you obsess, you see your child as frozen in developmental time and, on many an occasion, you underestimate yourself and your child. If you are apparent in that unplanned journey of life, I want to tell you that you are not alone. Naturally, any parent would feel guilty when a loved one is diagnosed. 

“This is part of the grieving process, and parents need to take time to process it, acknowledge it, accept it and then only will they be in a healthy place to focus on the intervention. Autism is treatable, though at present, there is no evidence that it could be totally cured. As parents, if you are privileged to be one at this stage of your life, we all know that raising our children can sometimes be an exhausting, overwhelming, daunting task. I will urge parents never to ignore any developmental delays and learn about developmental milestones and warning signs.” 


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